Reveal the story behind Huawei's P20 series mobile phone

- May 03, 2018-

Recently, the P20 series phones released by Huawei have become hot topics in the industry and have become the target of consumers. The post-Leica three-shot and AI photography master brought a revolution in mobile photography, solving the difficult problem of the mobile phone being unable to photograph high-quality photos in dim light and long distances. In addition, the Aurora Huawei P20 series mobile phone, from purple to blue-green gradient is like a flickering, flowing Aurora Borealis, called a mobile phone circle "color revolution."

What makes me curious is how such a cross-border fusion product of technology and art is designed. There must be many interesting stories behind it. Recently, I was fortunate to have visited the Shanghai Research Institute of Huawei for a field interview and conducted in-depth exchanges with the design team of Huawei's P20 series. We have finally discovered many design stories behind it.


1, the end of a large pressure dead, in fact, behind it is not simple

In the photography world, there is a saying that “The BIG-Big-Grade One Kills People”, the P20 Pro uses Leica three cameras and the image sensor has a size of 1/1.7 inch, which is 170% higher than the iPhone X. Such a large-size image sensor has brought good imaging results to mobile phones, but it has also brought unprecedented challenges to mobile phone design.

Huawei's R&D team revealed that in the early stage of product design, the camera department and the ID department had a fierce PK, but after unremitting efforts, they finally realized putting such a big bottom in the mobile phone, while having a very good ID appearance effect.

It is understood that Huawei has made a lot of efforts in R&D. On the one hand, in the lens design, from the light source design to the module design, the thickness and size of the module are compressed as much as possible to achieve the ultimate; The challenge lies in the impact of the three shots on the ID. The more holes behind it, the greater the damage to the ID. So what the R&D team needs to do is to minimize the number of holes behind them. Eventually, the development team and the ID team worked together to find a way to hide the laser sensor and color temperature sensor between the two cameras because the camera's glass cover is black and is equivalent to being hidden. In addition, the ID team hid a color temperature sensor in the flash, which saved an open hole. Originally, a technical and hardware problem, Huawei's designers have used their perfect product design capabilities!

How to design a post-Like three-photo camera to be the most beautiful is also a question that needs to be considered. The previous double shots were relatively simple, either horizontally or vertically, but the three shots were unprecedented, taking into account a variety of ways. The final result is that we now see the design of the "exclamation mark", that is, two together, the third camera is placed alone, together look like an exclamation point, and then down the flash, from big to small, Also makes the entire back of the phone look more comfortable. Now look at this "exclamation mark" design, not only simple and beautiful, but also implied shocking camera effects, a double-edged sword.

Optical zoom is another design difficulty, because the optical zoom means that there are very high protrusions. In order to retain this function while also achieving the beauty, Huawei R & D team also spent a lot of thought. In the end, how did they solve this problem? "When the P20 Pro's camera looks closely, it is divided into two layers, one layer is a black circle. This visually called sandwich feeling is to visually optimize the high camera, the two colors look very short However, the details are very detailed and the height is still there. This will not only ensure the optical zoom performance, but also make it visually beautiful,” explained Huawei’s R&D team leader.

2. The art of aurora color is shocking, but the process of using technology is very painful

In addition to Leica's three cameras, the Aurora color of Huawei's P20 series phones is also extremely shocking. According to the person in charge of the Huawei R&D team, the three generations of P-series mobile phones have been made of metal. The P20 is the first generation after returning to the glass. At the time of design, it was hoped that we would make full use of the characteristics of glass to create a mysterious color. , to create a completely different feeling from the metal phone.

Huawei's designers look for inspiration from a variety of things: phenomena related to light in the natural world, such as aurora, dawn; works created by many artists by depicting light, such as Monet's “Water Lilies” and “Sunrise”; and even The album cover of the "Dark Side of the Moon" album by the British Classical rock band Pink Floyd... finally decided to design this gradient in aurora.


According to relevant sources from Huawei, the artistic effect of the aurora color is very shocking, but the process of using technology is very painful. "We have in-depth cooperation with some of China's top glass suppliers and have tried many different processes on the production line."

In the end, Huawei and glass suppliers realized technological innovations: in the circular space in the plating furnace, ultra-high-speed electrons are used to bombard certain specific core targets, and then form a thin layer on the surface or back of the glass. Nano coating. This is not the most difficult part. Huawei's P20 series of aurora color technology uses a specific mask to cover part of the ion cloud and allow only another part of the ion cloud to adhere to the glass surface, thus forming nanometers on the glass surface. Difference in thickness. After this difference is formed, the background color is applied again to realize the feeling of light and fog that we see now.

Huawei R&D personnel introduced that this principle is the same as the concept of intercepting light from nature, just like a rainbow. What is the nature of the rainbow? It is the water droplets in the atmosphere. It refracts light differently, and finally it creates a colorful feeling. The aurora color of the P20 series phones is also similar. The colors that look from different angles are not the same, like the mystery of space and the flawlessness of the sea. Interestingly, this aurora color is becoming a new fashion trend, and some fashion bloggers even imitate it, dyeing hair into aurora colors...

Behind the story of 0.06 mm is Huawei's R&D team's excellence and pursuit

In the interview, I heard about a "0.06 mm story" in the design of the P20 mobile phone.

During the design process, the product division and the design division had a great deal of disagreement because the product division wanted to use a new technology to realize the power-saving appeal, but at the cost of a 0.06 mm thick handset. The design team's view of the product department's demand is that although it is only 0.06 millimeters, it will affect the mobile phone experience, and once this opening is opened, an increase of 0.06 mm here and 0.06 mm increase will inevitably affect the final thickness of the mobile phone.

"Never stop talking about PK, and you say 0.06 mm is not important. We say 0.06 mm is very important. Power saving and power consumption are very important, but the design experience is also very important. After half a month of discussion, the R&D team found A new material that saves electricity without sacrificing thickness.”


The 0.06 mm story is a microcosm and shows that Huawei's R&D team strives for excellence in every aspect of the mobile phone. What is the difference between a perfect product and an imperfect product? The difference may be 0.06 mm.

In fact, the success of the P20 series handsets is exactly the result of Huawei's R&D team's persistence in this spirit of excellence and utmost pursuit. According to the person in charge of the Huawei P20 series design team, the design investment for a mobile phone is very large. Before the real machine, there is a need to do a hand model. The price of a model can buy an ordinary car. The P20 series that is finally presented to everyone's eyes is probably a four- or five-wheel design process, with dozens of hand-board inputs in each round.

This input is only one aspect of Huawei's huge investment in technology. According to Huawei's 2017 annual report, last year, Huawei spent as much as $89.7 billion on research and development, and in the most recent decade it was as high as RMB 394 billion. In addition, Huawei's R&D is the integration of globally advantageous resources. For example, behind a Huawei P20 series mobile phone is the result of the joint efforts of Huawei's researchers around the world. Apart from the Shanghai Institute, there is also a Russian Institute with a strong understanding of algorithms. , The French Mathematical Research Center, the Paris Institute of Aesthetics, the Indian Software Research Center, and the American Institute of Radio Frequency...

I was very touched by talking with the main team of the P20 mobile phone of Huawei Research Institute in Shanghai for a long time. Huawei's P20 series mobile phones are not just a mobile phone, but are the crystallization of Huawei's huge investment in R&D and numerous R&D personnel's efforts. They are the result of their excellence and pursuit of ultimate returns.

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